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Museums Open Up Archives with Unsplash

Unsplash is the largest platform for freely sharing photos in the world. With more than 60 million image downloads and 10 billion views every month, it’s larger than Flickr, Getty, and Shutterstock combined.

In July 2019, they launched Unsplash for Education — connecting students and teachers everywhere to powerful, inspiring visuals.

Since then, organizations including New York Public LibraryEuropeanaLibrary of Congress, Birmingham Museums Trust, Museums Victoria have joined the initiative to bring more visibility to their archives.

Abraham Lincoln, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front]. Photograph by photographer Alexander Gardner

Above: Abraham Lincoln. Photograph by Alexander Gardner, Library of Congress

Why Should Museums Get Involved with Unsplash?

By uploading images to Unsplash, museums are able to connect to a new audience of over 300 million people ready to engage with their archives. From University students creating presentations to graphic designers creating websites, images will be used hundreds of thousands of times— bringing a new life to archival images.

Unsplash’s library is included in 1000+ of the world’s top creative and educational applications including Google, Medium, Adobe, and Instructure — allowing millions of more users to create with Unsplash images.

In addition to the exposure and brand recognition, participating institutions will be associated with supporting the open-source photography movement and the creative community.

Above: The Travelling Companions, 1862. Artist: Augustus Leopold Egg, Birmingham Museums

How can images uploaded to Unsplash be used?

As photos are free to use for both commercial and noncommercial purposes — people can simply use the images however they’d like. The ways in which your collection may used could include: school presentations, art inspiration, social media posts, marketing content, etc.

Content that appears on Unsplash is distributed with a license at least as permissible as the Unsplash License so that creators know that they can use the imagery in the ways that they expect. The images from the public domain that appear on Unsplash are still in the public domain and are not relicensed under the Unsplash License.

What happens if we want to delete the images on our account?

If you delete your collection from your account and no longer wish to use Unsplash — no Unsplash user will be able to access or download your images on the platform. However, the Unsplash License is irrevocable, so copies of the photo that were downloaded before deletion may still be used for free.

Interested in learning more about how your museum can get involved with Unsplash? Email partnerships@unsplash.com or sign up here: Unsplash Education Partner Form.

Interested in the latest digital thinking for museums? Join us for MuseumNext Digital Summit in December 2020.

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